Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Uninhabited 'Snake Island' is home to 4,000 vipers with flesh-eating venom – via Herp Digest

The island near Sao Paulo in Brazil is home to 4,000 golden lancehead snakes - among the most venomous in the world

By Milo Boyd, 3/25/19 WWW.Mirrror.UK

This is the so-called 'Snake Island' where thousands of serpents filled with flesh-melting venom roam free.

Located off the southeastern coast of Brazil  near Sao Paulo, Ilha da Queimada Grande - or Snake Island as it is affectionately known - is home to around 4,000 slithering reptiles.

These are no harmless grass snakes, however.

The island its known for its large population of golden lanceheads, a critically endangered species considered one of the world's most deadly.

With venom potent enough to kill large birds and the ability to pluck them straight out of the air, the golden lanceheads are formidable predators.

Fortunately, the snakes only live in an area uninhabited by humans, meaning there has never been an official report of anyone being bitten.

Authorities allow only a small handful of scientists to visit each year, but 9 News reporter Tara Brown was given unprecedented access for 60 Minutes and was accompanied by a medical team on the island.

Speaking to she said: "When we're speaking to local fisherman, they told us, 'That's not a good idea, you don't want to go there’.

"There are legends about a whole family being killed there, and of pirates burying treasure on the island and the snakes being put there to protect the treasure.

"The fishermen said they never went there, or they would die."
The snakes are five times more deadly than their mainland cousins.

One bite from them can kill a human in an hour, with effects including swelling, vomiting, blood blisters, bruising, intestinal bleeding, kidney failure and hemorrhage in the brain.

The lanceheads have hemotoxic venom, which eats away at the flesh and tissue of prey so they are easier to eat.

Brown explained: "They're different to their mainland cousins in that they're five times more venomous and they are among the top 10 most poisonous snakes in the world.

"They hunt and eat birds. Not the local birds, who have become too smart for them, but larger migratory birds, boobies, who come by on their migration.

"And the snakes' venom has become more potent because their prey is bigger.

"It's an incredibly interesting evolutionary experiment for scientists to observe. This is a laboratory in the wild, if you like. You see evolution at play."

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